Monday, March 14, 2011

Obama, the Great White Hope

Obama was elected under the guise of "change you can believe in" and the idea that a smart guy like him would have the serious leadership skills that were so sadly missing in George Bush (or as Molly Ivins referred to him, Shrub). The reality is that Obama is "no leader". He is a bright guy, he is a powerful orator, he claims to have liberal political beliefs, but he has no skills as a leader.

Here's a bit from a post by Geoffrey Styles of the blog Energy Outlook. I've bolded the key bit:
After listening to the energy portions of the presidential press conference last Friday, I found myself confused about the administration's approach to energy. Although I heard the President defending certain US energy policies, they weren't mainly those of his administration, nor were many of the outcomes he highlighted the result of actions he has taken. What's odd about that is that this administration has pursued as clear a set of energy policies, explicit and implicit, as any administration in recent memory; they just happen to be focused on a very different set of goals than attempting "to boost domestic production of oil and gas". And while I haven't agreed with all of them, his administration's actual policies concerning energy are certainly defensible in the context of putting the highest national priority on concerns about climate change. Before looking at this in more detail...
This confused energy "policy" reflects on Obama's unwillingness to focus on the task at hand as well as his appointment of an academic, Stephen Chu, to a position that requires administrative and policy skills.

As for Obama, Styles points out that he has declared one policy but seems unable to stick with it or explain the inconsistencies in policy:
The President also supported comprehensive energy legislation, the explicit purpose of which was to make energy derived from fossil fuels--especially oil--more expensive. Although I have disagreed with many of these measures because I thought they took too little cognizance of the realities of the energy sector that supports our economy and the length of time a transition to cleaner energy entails, there was at least an admirable--and defensible--consistency to them. I would not have expected the President to tack away from defending these policies the first time oil and gasoline prices seriously spiked since his inauguration.
Obama is a smart guy but he doesn't appear to understand that academic smarts is no substitute for real experience:
The President's statement about undeveloped oil leases is a further reflection of how short his administration is on staff with industry experience. Companies don't lease these tracts with the intention of letting them sit idle. Instead, they continually prioritize their drilling prospects and pursue the best ones first, adding new leases to their inventory when they appear to have higher potential than those in their backlog.
And while he shows some adeptness as a "quick learner", it is difficult to put up with "learning on the job" when you are responsible for the world's largest economy:
President Obama isn't the first politician to take credit for the results of actions taken in another administration. Considering the blame presidents often receive for events over which they likewise had little control or responsibility, it might even be understandable. Still, I can't help being surprised when the leader of an administration that has focused 90% of its energy efforts on resources and technologies that account for about 5% of our energy consumption and treated oil and gas as a legacy of a previous, less enlightened era suddenly embraces rising oil output. Whatever the reason, the change is welcome.
The above is a criticism, but it shouldn't be taken as exclusively directed at Obama. The real horror is that the candidates that the Republicans put forward for the presidency are even more incompetent, unprepared, and ideologically inflexible. They are a truly scary bunch. I much prefer Obama to them. But the sad fact is that Obama has fallen far short of what he promised the American people.

Obama, the tongue-in-cheek Great White Hope, has shown a serious inability to lead. This is a tragedy for the US and for the whole world since we live in a highly integrated world economy.

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